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5 Foods That Warm You Up

5 Foods That Warm You Up

If you’ve ever wondered why the cuisine in hot climates is often distinguished by a high degree of spiciness, the answer may come in the guise of a nifty little trick known in some circles as diet-induced thermogenesis. Also known as: the generation of body heat that occurs from eating. Through normal digestion, absorption, and metabolization of food, the body converts food calories to heat. Burning calories can literally warm you up.

In hot weather, the increase in body temperature makes you feel cooler by decreasing the temperature difference between you and the air around you, as well as by inducing the body to sweat, which cools the body when the perspiration evaporates. In cold weather, though, the increase in body temperature can make you feel plain old warm and cozy.

Other foods have similar thermogenic effects, resulting in increased feelings of warmth. Here are five foods that have been found to turn up the body heat.

Hot Peppers
Capsaicin, the substance that gives hot peppers their pungent flavor (and also used in pepper sprays and for pain relief) increases thermogenesis. Essentially, hot, spicy foods are stimulants which raise the body temperature by stimulating the circulation.

Black Pepper
Black pepper is harvested from unripe berries of the vine Piper nigrum (white pepper is extracted from the ripe berries, you can impress your foodie friends at dinner parties with that one). Black pepper contains piperine, a substance that has been shown to influence thermogenesis through stimulating the nervous system.

Ginger
Widely used as a herbal remedy for a number of conditions–including those involving the digestive tract, headaches and nausea–the pungent principles of ginger (gingerols and shogaols) also have thermogenic properties.

Green Tea
Green tea has two components, caffeine and catechins, that have been shown to produce thermogensis. Green tea containing caffeine significantly increased thermogenesis by 28 percent to 77 percent. In Asia, green tea is a common recipe ingredient, which is a great way to incorporate this nutritional powerhouse into your diet.

Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is comprised of mostly medium-chain fatty acids, which, when eaten, have been shown to increase thermogenesis. On the down side, one tablespoon of coconut oil contains 117 calories and 13.6 grams of fat.

Related:
Top 10 Superfoods for Winter

7 Ways to Stay Warm
Sexual Nutrition: Foods that Inspire Desire

Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Food, , ,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

263 comments

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12:31AM PDT on Sep 12, 2011

Good to know. Thanks for the great article.

11:56AM PDT on Mar 26, 2011

I like adding a bit of ginger in my hot cup of green tea.

4:46PM PST on Feb 28, 2011

Thank you

6:32PM PST on Feb 20, 2011

Thanks, we're experiencing a heat wave at the moment!

12:30AM PST on Jan 29, 2011

noted and agree

11:37AM PST on Jan 27, 2011

Thanks

10:59AM PST on Jan 27, 2011

Interesting article, thanks for posting.

4:36PM PST on Jan 25, 2011

Great info...thanks!

1:39AM PST on Jan 24, 2011

Cool, thanks. Japanese cuisine uses ginger, and I can drink green tea like I'm a fish in water... I also like spicy food, so, I have more reason to cook that way.

9:55PM PST on Jan 23, 2011

thx

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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